Is Sports Betting Gambling? | What You Should Know

Sports betting refers to the activity of predicting sports results and placing wagers on certain outcomes. An example of sports betting would be predicting the number of goals a star player will score in a soccer match or betting whether a player will run for a certain number of yards in an American football game. The purpose of sports betting is, of course, to have the most accurate prediction and profit from your bet. As more and more states legalize the activity, many wonder whether sports betting is gambling and whether or not it’s a safe habit to take up.

Is Sports Betting Considered Gambling?

Lots of people love to put some extra action on their favorite sports teams, and states love the extra tax revenue from legal gambling. That’s right, sports betting is gambling, and it’s legal in several states. Currently, just under 30 states have legalized and regulated sports betting industries, including:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington, DC
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico

The legalization of sports betting began to spread across the country in 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The act made sports betting illegal except in Nevada and several other states. After the ban was lifted, more and more states have legalized sports betting and even launched their own programs.

Bets are usually placed in land-based sportsbooks or at online betting sites. Other options include using a bookie or placing bets with people you know. Because in-person and online sports betting books are available in various places of the world and parts of the internet, many people continue to place sports bets even where it’s illegal (which is not advised).

Negative Effects of Sports Betting

Not only is sports betting a threat to people with gambling addictions, but the – although legal – action can contribute to gambling addiction, as well. Approximately 1% of adults in the U.S. have severe gambling addictions. According to most recent research, this starts at a younger age. Research estimates that 6% to 9% of teens and college students experience problems related to gambling at a higher rate than adults.1,2,3

Unfortunately, simply because it was legalized, this form of gambling has become widely acceptable and mainstream and is considered to be a pillar in American entertainment. But how does it affect us? What are the risks of sports betting gambling?

Especially for people with pre-existing gambling disorders or problems with compulsive gambling, sports betting can open the floodgates to self-destructive behavior. Individuals who fall into sports betting can experience severe legal, financial, emotional, mental, and physical repercussions that can worsen over time. Below are some of the common negative effects of sports betting:

  • Financial problems: As sports betting activity increases, so do the losses. Betters who become addicted to sports betting may begin to borrow or even steal money to continue gambling.
  • Legal problems: Many sports betters turn to crime when their money runs out. This may include making false insurance claims or fraudulent tax returns to access funds.
  • Unemployment: Sports betting addiction can also impact your performance at work, especially if the gambling is done among coworkers. This can also lead to other financial, relationship, mental, and physical problems.
  • Strained relationships: Relationships are often broken as sports betters steal or lie to their loved ones to gamble. The emotional and financial stress of living with someone who’s addicted to gambling can also affect the person’s relationship with their spouse and children, resulting in divorce and broken homes.
  • Mental illness: Especially for people who have underlying mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), compulsive gambling can make symptoms worse. Sports betting addiction can also contribute to the onset of mental illness.
  • Physical illness: Physical health can also be affected by sports betting, as compulsive gambling is often linked to insomnia. Lack of sleep can lead to further issues like heart disease, migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, and impaired immunity.
  • Increased risk of suicide: Mortality and suicide rates are significantly higher in people with gambling disorders, many of whom where depression was a leading cause. Mental health treatment is crucial for individuals with gambling disorders to achieve a stable and healthy lifestyle.

Signs of Sports Betting Addiction

Sports betting is addictive, and people with this problem usually wave these common red flags:

  • The need to gamble with increasing amounts to feel the same thrill.
  • Feeling irritable or restless when attempting to stop or reduce their gambling.
  • Repeated and unsuccessful attempts to reduce, control or stop gambling.
  • Constant or obsessive thoughts about gambling and making plans to gamble.
  • Gambling when feeling unhappy or to improve their mood.
  • Chasing losses or continuing to gamble after losing repeatedly.
  • Lying to loved ones about gambling.
  • Stealing from loved ones, committing tax fraud, or using other illegal methods to obtain money to gamble.
  • Experiencing relationship problems because of gambling.
  • Risking career or educational opportunities to gamble.

How to Stop Sports Betting Addiction

The best way to end sports betting addiction is to seek professional help. Our luxury rehab in Palm Beach offers various forms of mental health care, including disorder-specific programs like gambling addiction treatment. We can help you or a loved one who’s become addicted to gambling and is struggling to pull themselves up.

Through the use of evidence-based programs and individual and group counseling, we offer clients the tools and skills they’ll need for long-term recovery. With our help, you can rebuild your life.


For more information about our Palm Beach addiction treatment and mental health services, call Seaside Palm Beach today at 561-677-9374.



  1. NCBI – DSM-IV pathological gambling in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication
  2. NIH – Estimating the prevalence of disordered gambling behavior in the United States and Canada: a research synthesis
  3. NIH – Comparisons of gambling and alcohol use among college students and noncollege young people in the United States


Related Reading:

Understanding Behavioral Addiction

Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics

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